Salt the propulsive new thriller from Phillip Noyce (Clear and Present Danger Patriot Games) has been dubbed “Bourne with boobs ” but that label isn’t entirely accurate. In the role of Evelyn Salt a CIA staffer hunted by her own agency after a Russian defector fingers her in a plot to murder Russia’s president Angelina Jolie keeps her two most potent weapons holstered hidden under pantsuits and trenchcoats and the various other components of a super-spy wardrobe that proudly emphasizes function over flash.
But flash is one thing Salt never lacks for. Its breathless cat-and-mouse game hits full-throttle almost from the outset when a former KGB officer named Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski) stumbles into a CIA interrogation room and begins spilling details of a vast conspiracy. Back in the ‘70s hardline elements of the Soviet regime launched an ambitious new front in the Cold War flooding the western world with orphans trained to infiltrate the security complexes of their adopted homelands and wait patiently — decades if necessary — for the order to initiate a series of assassinations intended to trigger a devastating nuclear clash between the superpowers from which the treacherous Reds would emerge triumphant.
The Soviet Union may have long ago collapsed (or did it? Hmmm...) but its army of brainwashed killer orphan spies remains in place and if this crazy Orlov fellow is to be believed they stand poised to reignite the Cold War. It’s a preposterous — even idiotic — scheme but no more so than any of our government’s various harebrained proposals to kill Castro back in the ‘60s. As such the CIA treats it with grave seriousness even the part that that pegs Salt who just happens to be a Russian-born orphan herself as a key player in the conspiracy.
Salt bristles at the accusation but suspecting a set-up she opts to flee rather than face interrogation from her bosses Winter (Liev Schreiber) and Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor). A former field agent she’s been confined to a desk job since a clandestine operation in North Korea went south leaving her with a nasty shiner and a rather unremarkable German boyfriend (now her unremarkable German husband). She’s clearly kept up her training during while cubicle-bound however and in a blaze of resourceful thinking and devastating Parkour Fu she fends off a dozen or so agents of questionable competence and takes to the streets where she sets about to clear her name and unravel the Commie orphan conspiracy before the authorities can catch up with her. That is if she isn’t a part of the conspiracy.
The premise which aims to resurrect Cold War tensions and graft them onto a modern-day spy thriller is absurdly clever — and cleverly absurd. But Kurt Wimmer’s screenplay isn’t satisfied with the merely clever and absurd — it must be mind-blowing. Salt is one of those thrillers that ladles out its backstory slowly and in tiny portions every once in a while dropping a revelatory bombshell that effectively blows the lid off everything that happened beforehand. No one is who they seem and every action every gesture no matter how seemingly trivial is imbued with some kind of grand significance. The effect of piling on one insane twist after another has the effect of gradually diluting the narrative. When anything is possible nothing really matters.
But spy thrillers by definition trade in the preposterous and the principal function of the summer blockbuster is to entertain. In that regard Salt more than fulfills its charge. Noyce wisely keeps the story moving at pace that allows little time for asking uncomfortable questions or poking holes in the film’s frail plot. And he has an able partner in the infinitely versatile Jolie who having already exhibited formidable action-hero chops in Wanted and the Tomb Raider films proves remarkably adept at the spy game as well.
It’s well-known that Jolie wasn’t the first choice to star in Salt joining the project only after Tom Cruise dropped out citing the story’s growing similarities to the Mission: Impossible films. But she’s more than just a capable replacement; she’s a welcome upgrade over Cruise not least because she’s over a decade younger (and a few inches taller) than her predecessor. Should Brad Bird require a pinch-hitter for Ethan Hunt he knows where to look.
With plans to record a fundraising song titled "What More Can I Give?" Michael Jackson has lined up support from today's hottest acts to aid survivors and families of victims of the recent terrorist attacks the United States suffered earlier this month.
The question is: Could Jackson recreate the success of his 1985 tribute tune "We Are the World"? Our answer: Definitely.
With support from Destiny's Child, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake of 'N Sync and Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys, Jackson is currently recording "What More Can I Give?" with the goal of raising $50 million for relief efforts, Jackson's spokesman, Howard Rubenstein, told ABCNews.com on Monday.
According to SonicNet.com, a Spanish-language version of the song is also in the works.
On Thursday, however, a spokeswoman for Jive Records told Hollywood.com that neither Spears nor Timberlake had confirmed their involvement in the upcoming Michael Jackson project.
"I believe in my heart that the music community will come together as one and rally to the aid of thousands of innocent victims," Jackson said on a press release. "There is a tremendous need for relief dollars right now and through this effort, each one of us can play an immediate role in helping comfort so many people."
Who would know better than to come up with a project like this than Jackson, who in 1985 co-wrote the tune "We Are the World" with Lionel Richie, a song that would raise $65 million for USA for Africa, a fund that helps victims of starvation in Africa.
The song entered the Billboard Hot 100 on March 23, 1985 at No. 21 and won a Grammy for Song of the Year and Record of the Year.
While some may think that Jackson's effort to record a new song is only intended to increase interest in his comeback efforts, the King of Pop has always been involved in charitable organizations.
In October 1998, tenor Luciano Pavarotti and Jackson's close friend Elizabeth Taylor joined the superstar in a series of concerts Jackson organized and headlined to benefit the World Peace Foundation for Children (WPFC), in hopes of providing aid to needy children and families around the world.
In Jackson's opinion, music is capable of touching people's souls, and it's "time we use that power to help us begin the process of healing immediately," he told ABCNews.com.
Jackson is not alone. Other musicians are doing their part to pay tribute to the victims by donating to different relief funds.
Music producer Phil Ramone and television producer Merv Griffin assembled several of the artists in Los Angeles to attend a fund raising event at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sept. 16.
Stacey Wolf, publicist for actor Kevin Spacey, said that the event benefited the American Red Cross and featured a performance of Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" sung by Spacey.
Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen, are some of the confirmed participants at the America: A Tribute to Heroes telethon being put together by the CBS, ABC, Fox and NBC networks. The event will be broadcast live from Los Angeles and New York Friday at 9 p.m. Eastern and Central. The show will be tape-delayed in the Mountain and Pacific time zones.
Singer Whitney Houston is taking a similar approach by planning to re-release her rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner," which she originally performed before the Super Bowl XXV in 1991, when the nation had ended the Persian Gulf War. Houston's label, Arista Records, told SonicNet the singer will split the proceeds between the New York Firefighters Disaster Relief Fun and the New York Fraternal Order of Police Fund.
Janet Jackson, James Taylor and R&B singer Maxwell have joined the band Earth, Wind & Fire, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Backstreet Boys, and Sade with $10,000 each in donations to the ClearChannel.com Relief Fund.
Rebecca Allmon, director of public relations for Clear Channel World Wide, told Hollywood.com on Friday that the fund has raised $5.4 million through artist contributions, patron donations, and individuals around the country who can donate money over the phone or online through Clear Channel's official Web site.
"We are so overwhelmed with the generosity of Americans everywhere who are financially participating to express their outrage," Allmon said. "We are deeply fortunate to be in a position to make that happen."
Proceeds from the Clear Channel Relief Fund will benefit organizations including the New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania police, firefighters and emergency workers, the U.S. Military and National Guard personnel, and the national and local chapters of The American Red Cross and The Salvation Army.
By having access to media resources, such as radio stations and public service campaigns, Allmon said, billboards have been created across the nation with messages that read, "In God We Trust. United We Stand."
On Sept. 14 in Birmingham, Ala., Governor Don Siegelman, spoke and led an audience of 7,000 for a candle light vigil, where civil and religious entities had an opportunity to express their feelings on the tragedy, Allmon said.
Britney Spears, along with boyfriend Justin Timberlake of 'N Sync, have created The Giving Back Fund, a charity foundation to aid the families of victims of the attacks, Launch.com reports. The fund is gathering entertainers and athletes for a special event in the near future that will benefit victims.
Spears also plans to give $1 from each ticket sold for her upcoming fall tour, and hopes plans to raise $2 million in merchandise sales and by auctioning front-row seats at her shows, The Associated Press reported.
Janes Addiction's guitarist Dave Navarro had mobile units for blood for his Sept. 12 show in Pittsburgh, Pa., and Charlotte, N.C. show on Sept. 15. "Dave didn't feel comfortable with playing shows without doing something about it," Navarro's publicist, Bobbi Gale, told Hollywood.com on Friday.
Rock band Incubus donated the proceeds from their Sept. 15 and 16 shows in New York to relief efforts. Godsmack also donated their proceeds from the sale of their merchandise to the New York City Public and Private Initiative, a fund benefiting the families of police officers and firefighters.
After canceling her show on Sept. 11, the day of the attack, Madonna led a prayer for peace at her Staples Center performance in Los Angeles on Sept. 14. Other artists such as Aerosmith, Stevie Nicks, Janet Jackson and Cake have canceled shows in the aftermath of the tragedy.